Who? Peter Fehler, 61, assistant director of law at London’s Islington Council.
Why is he in the news? Acted for Islington Council, which intervened on behalf of all local authorities in a judicial review (JR) brought by a disabled man against the government’s decision to cease funding safety-net local welfare provision.
The council argued that cutting the £174m fund could seriously harm efforts to support residents in need, including women fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pregnant mothers, care leavers, pensioners struggling to maintain their independence, and people suffering from chronic physical and mental health problems.
The government has now said it will revisit its decision to cut the fund in the light of an ongoing review of local welfare provision, proper consultation with stakeholders and due consideration of equalities implications, all of which it had previously failed to do.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘We must be very clear that this was never about abolishing support. This government is giving councils more control because they understand best their local area’s needs.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘The grounds for the JR were that the government had decided to cut the local welfare provision fund without: replacing the funding elsewhere; performing an equality impact assessment; proper consultation; and awaiting the outcome of its own review of the fund.
‘The government backed down on the day that it was due to file its defence. Having tried the time-honoured argument that the claim was both premature and out of time, the government is now saying that it never intended to cut the fund. However, on 27 January, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government told a House of Commons committee that the government was to stop funding local welfare provision “completely’’.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘To ensure that there is a fair balance between the opportunities afforded to litigating parties, including those of limited means.’
Career high: ‘Advising on the council’s pioneering free school meals programme, which is now national policy.’
Career low: ‘While still at university, turning down a pupillage at one of the best libel sets.’